Keep up with Armagh i

Hilbert Willis: Loughgall centenarian celebrates action-packed birthday itinerary

Hilbert kicked off his birthday celebrations last Friday in Larne

Hilbert Willis

A Co. Armagh centenarian has said he has been invited to so many birthday parties this week that he has “lost count of the cakes!”

Hilbert Willis, who turned 100-years-young on Sunday, February 11, is a lifelong fan of Loughgall FC, serving the club as a groundsman for 30 years and as chairman, amongst a host of other voluntary roles.

In 2021, he went the extra mile for his club, completing 100 laps of Lakeview Park and netting more than £27,000 for improvements to the clubhouse and grounds in the process.

A number of functions were organised to mark his birthday, with Loughgall FC itself hosting ‘Cheers to 100 Years’ at the club on February 10, the night before his birthday.

Armagh I caught up with Hilbert at just one of these birthday events, which was held last night (Tuesday) in Kinnego Orange Hall – a fitting venue given that Hilbert is the oldest Orangeman in County Armagh.

Filling in the blanks of a rollercoaster of a week, Hilbert told us he was in Larne last Friday for the first of his birthday parties.

He said: “They sent a car right around to the stand to pick me up and gave me a bottle of Bush, 20 years of age.”

He then attended a function at Sloan’s House in Loughgall, where he was presented with a jewel by the Orange Order.

On Saturday evening, he enjoyed an event at Loughgall Football Club, where over 100 people were treated to what he described as a “powerful sit-down meal” and an announcement that over £2,000 was raised for Salters Grange Church of Ireland, where Hilbert attends.

He also attended a Masonic do in Keady!

“I’ve lost count of the cakes,” Hilbert said. “It could be four cakes now in total!

“I never thought for a minute I would see the 100 but I didn’t get here by licking my wounds. It’s been hard work.”

Hilbert described himself as an “all-round” farmer – a man who spent 42 years at Co-Op and had horses from 14-years-old.

“No other way to say it, but farming is in my blood,” he exclaimed.

“Whilst Hilbert has enjoyed his week of partying, he hoped that last night’s would be the last of the parties. He’s been interviewed by everyone and can’t even remember who or where for!

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Loughgall